“I think back to the teachers in school who got the most out of me. Who were they? Without exception, they were the teachers who pushed me the hardest. They drove me… The teachers who had the highest expectations were the ones who got the best results. Even though I might have resented it at the time, I have to admit that the most effective teachers were the ones who were the most demanding.
This is why I believe our entire public-education establishment is going in exactly the wrong direction today if its goal is real academic achievement and excellence. For several reasons, however, I fear these are not the objectives of those running our schools. Rather, the trend seems to be toward reaching some kind of educational parity, to make sure no students feel badly about themselves. Student self-esteem is a higher goal than accomplishment. Competition is to be discouraged at all costs. No one should be permitted to fail. This stems from a warped notion that competition is harmful to personal development and, ultimately, to society. The pursuit of academic excellence… is to be discouraged, because it results in some people achieving more than others. Even traditional educational goals, such as learning, must be subordinated to the… ideal of academic egalitarianism.
A couple of years ago a seventeen-year-old high-school student from Wichita showed me the front page of her high-school newspaper. It contained a report that said teachers, administrators, and a school-board member in town believed that maintaining a C-minus grade-point average was too difficult for children. In some schools in the city, students were required to maintain only a D-minus to stay in school. It is undeniable that an educational system that invokes such a relaxation in standards is not interested in its students’ learning… (“)We must take care of people, especially disadvantaged people, because they can’t take care of themselves.(“) But by taking care of them, what they really do is hold them down, discourage them from surmounting obstacles, and drag down everyone else in the process… What responsible parent would tolerate such an encouragement of mediocrity?
And besides, since when is a C-minus average too tough to maintain? When I went to school, attaining a C was considered embarrassingly average. Therein lies the problem. We have allowed our perspective to be colored by those who preach that competition, achievement, and success are dirty words.”